Christophe Lo Bianco, PhD, obtained a doctorate in Neuroscience & Gene therapy from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Gene Therapy Center, Lausanne, in Switzerland under the direction of Prof. Patrick Aebischer. Dr. Lo Bianco developed a genetic rat model of Parkinson's disease based on the nigral injection of viral vectors overexpressing human alpha-synuclein. This model is characterized by a progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra associated with the presence of alpha-synuclein-positive inclusions. In this animal model, he first evaluated the ability of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) in protecting dopamine neurons from the alpha-synuclein toxicity. Surprisingly, although GDNF has been documented extensively as one of the most potent survival-promoting factors for dopamine neurons, it did not have any effect in the alpha-synuclein overexpression model. Recently, Dr. Lo Bianco published the first in vivo demonstration of a novel gene therapy for Parkinson's disease. Using a recombinant lentiviral vector that encoded the parkin gene, he showed that the overexpression of parkin blocks alpha-synuclein induced neurodegeneration of dopamine neurons. Dr. Lo Bianco is now evaluating the neuroprotective properties of chaperones and small molecules in blocking the neurodegeneration observed in the lentiviral-based model of PD. His major scientific interest concerns the mechanisms leading to neurodegeneration in human disorders as PD in order to define more efficient therapies.